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Alcohol use in children continues to drop

The number of school children who have tried drinking or smoking is highest in the North East, yet overall levels of alcohol use in children is dropping a report has shown.

Over half of pupils (51%) aged between 11 and 15 have ever drunk alcohol in the North East, compared to under a third (31%) in London, where the number is lowest. 

Researchers from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) surveyed 7,590 pupils in 254 schools last year. 

The report shows a continuing drop in the numbers of school children drinking, smoking or taking illegal drugs. 

HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning said: “We now have a fascinating insight into school children's use of and attitudes towards drink, smoking and drugs.

“The regional breakdowns we have been able to provide will prove invaluable to public health and health professionals, enabling them to tackle the real issues involved in improving young peoples' health effectively.”

In 2012, 28% of pupils thought it was okay for someone of their age to drink once per week, compared to 46% in 2002. 

The number of children who think it is okay for someone of their age to smoke has almost halved, dropping from 25% in 2003, to 13% in 2012. 

Around two in ten 11 to 15 year olds had tried smoking in 2012 compared to four in ten in 2002. 

And less than half of pupils (43%) had ever drunk alcohol, compared to 61% a decade ago in 2002. 

The full report is available on the HSCIC website